Business Hilights
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New Broadband Council risks losing critical industry details—-ALTON boss

Barely more than two months after the reconstitution of the National Broadband Council (NBC) by the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, industry experts and stakeholders in broadband infrastructure and penetration have picked holes in the configuration.

Key issue of division seems to be the absence of leading industry operators who would have played major roles in giving needed industry details considering their status of being on ground.

Besides, previous Council under the former minister, Dr. Mrs. Omobola Johnson had top industry experts in the Council before their dissolution.

Members of the new council consist mainly of Communications ministry, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and representatives of some agencies under the ministry of Communications.

In the argument of former president of Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engineer Lanre Ajayi, who was a member of the old council representing ATCON, “It is ideal and appropriate for operators playing in the deployment of broadband services to be represented in the council if the council wants to achieve its objective and functions effective”.

He argued further that “In absence of the operators that will implement the Broadband policy and industry associations expected to represent the views of its members, I wonder how the new National Broadband Council will function effectively; this means that they will not get the right input to perform their role”.

In his submission, president of Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and former member of the former Council, Engineer Gbenga Adebayo said “I am of the view that critical industry players should be members of the council otherwise it will be more of an advisory council than implementation council. The object of the council is to make things happen and it is operators that can make things happen, they are the ones that understand the challenges of the industry in terms of providing broadband services in the country”.

According to him, “If operators were not carried along there is the tendency that the council will loss vital information in the process of writing report for the implementation of the broadband plan. We as operators will cooperate with them to ensure that the objectives of the plan are realized, but, the ideal practice would have been to involve operators as members of the council just like the old council”.

Whereas analysts are not optimistic on the ability of the council to supervise effectively the implementation of the national broadband plan, other experts say it would have been better to draft in experienced industry experts who know the terrain so that they can timely advise the council during the time of taking critical decisions.

Business Hilights recalls that the NBC is structured to drive the implementation of National Broadband plan (NBP); the council plays a supervisory role in the implementation of the plan. Although, the council does not implement, implementations are done by operators, various ministries as well as Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The Council will among other things, ensure that different time line as contained in the National Broadband Plan are achieved, where there is delay, the council invites the agency responsible to ensure that any obstacle responsible for the delay is removed.

Already, there had been unprecedented disruptions as far as the timetable is concerned. By the National Broadband Plan (NBP), by now, every earmarked zone ought to have known its Infrastructure Company (Infraco).

Infracos are cables infrastructure service providers who are expected to lay cables and optic fibres that will drive the delivery of broadband.

Former Executive Vice chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah successfully conducted bidding and named Infracos for North Central and Lagos Zones, but the current leadership at NCC is yet to complete other zones, even as time as provided in the timetable has long elapsed.

Besides, no explanation had been given for the failure to meet time by the NCC.